The initial cost of a tablet is too high, making it impossible for many people to afford this helpful gadget, especially for low-income families. However, the federal government has programs that assist low-income families in obtaining free government phones and tablets for their communication needs. During the recent global pandemic, technology and communication have become an integral part of our lives, necessitating the need to have digital devices.

    Moreover, most things are done online, such as learning, shopping, booking appointments, job applications, and remote work. For this reason, you need a seamless internet connection and devices such as mobile phones and tablets. The U.S. Federal government gives such devices free plus monthly internet discounts to qualified households. In this case, you are only required to prove eligibility and apply for free government phones and tablets through your preferred wireless provider.

    On the other hand, some non-governmental and charitable organizations offer low-income households and eligible students digital devices. To be eligible for a free tablet and phone from the government’s programs, you will need to apply initially, have the relevant documentation and attain all the eligibility requirements. If you qualify for Lifeline or the Affordable Connectivity Program, you can take home a free tablet or a cell phone.

    Free Phones and Tablets for Low-Income Families

    Generally, Lifeline providers give but do not provide free tablets. However, Lifeline customers can get a free tablet through the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), through which all Lifeline members automatically qualify.

    Moreover, you must meet Lifeline-eligibility requirements to become a Lifeline subscriber and get a free phone through Lifeline or a free tablet via the ACP. To qualify, a household member must attain at least one of the following eligibility criteria:

    1. Lifeline

    a) Income-Based Eligibility

    According to the Federal Poverty Guidelines, you qualify for Lifeline if your gross annual household income is 135% or below. However, the guideline depends on the household size and the state.

    b) Program-Based Eligibility

    You qualify for Lifeline if you or any household member participate in one of the below qualifying government-aided programs:

    1. Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
    2. Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
    3. Medicaid
    4. SNAP, previously Food Stamps
    5. Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit

    Additionally, you are Lifeline-eligible if you or any household member participate in one of the following Tribal assistance programs:

    1. Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
    2. Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
    3. Tribal TANF
    4. Head Start (only households with the income qualifying standard)

    Lifeline Program Offer To Eligible Households

    Lifeline is a program that helps make communication services cheaper for low-income households. However, it offers eligible subscribers a discount on qualifying monthly internet, telephone, or bundled voice-broadband packages. These discounts are obtained from participating wireless providers.

    Moreover, Lifeline offers a monthly discount of up to $9.25 for qualified non-Tribal families or $34.25 for eligible subscribers on qualifying Tribal lands for either wireless or wireline service. Fortunately, some participating Lifeline providers also give a free or discounted government phone.

    2. Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)

    Lifeline-eligible customers automatically qualify to participate in the ACP. However, other requirements make a household ACP eligible and, therefore, receive a free phone and tablet depending on availability.

    a) Income-Based Eligibility

    A household member qualifies for ACP-eligible if your annual household income is 200% or below the Federal Poverty Threshold. Notably, the income eligibility requirements depend on the state and the household size.

    b) Program-Based Eligibility

    A household member qualifies for ACP if they participate in Lifeline or any qualifying government/Tribal sponsored programs under the Lifeline program eligibility. Besides, a household is also ACP-eligible if any of its members:

    1. Recipient of the WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children)
    2. Obtained a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year
    3. Participate in the Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program, including at U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Community Eligibility Provision schools

    ACP Offer To Eligible Households

    ACP providers avail of two types of benefits. One on monthly service and the second on connected devices. Besides, all ACP providers give a discount on monthly broadband internet of up to $30 and $75 for eligible households residing on qualifying Tribal lands.

    However, some ACP providers also provide a one-time discount of up to $100 per eligible household to purchase a device, such as a laptop, a tablet, or a desktop computer. To receive this discount and device, the qualified customer must pay a co-payment of more than $10 and less than $50.

    Additionally, you must identify an ACP provider in your state that provides discounts on connected devices. To search for a suitable provider, proceed to FCC Affordable Connectivity Program providers, tap on your state of residence, and choose a provider with a ‘tick’ under ‘Offering Connected Devices.’

    Application for Free Government Phone or Tablet

    Most Lifeline free phone and tablet providers also participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which offers free tablets with food stamps and provide a simple online application process. However, applying for a Lifeline free tablet and phone through Lifeline and ACP follows the below steps:

    1. Ensure you are Lifeline-eligible. Being Lifeline-eligible automatically qualifies you for ACP so you can apply for a free tablet.
    2. Identify an ACP provider that provides a free phone or tablet for Lifeline subscribers in your state of residence. You can check the state’s complete list of all ACP providers at fcc.gov/affordable-connectivity-program-providers.
      Notably, not all ACP providers that give connected devices discounts offer tablets. Some provide laptops, desktops, or even smartphones through the Lifeline program.
    3. Gather the relevant documents that prove your eligibility and verify your identity, age, and address during the application process.
    4. Proceed to the selected provider’s official website and get their online application form. Compete by providing all the necessary personal information and documentation. Send the application.
    5. Wait for approval. If approved, you will get a confirmation email within a couple of days. The broadband discount will probably get applied to your next bill, and expect to get your ACP/Lifeline free tablet, phone, or another connected device within 7 to 10 days, based on your location and availability.

    Best Providers of Free Government Phone and Tablet

    1) StandUp Wireless

    StandUp Wireless provides both ACP and Lifeline free tablets and phones. Through this carrier, qualified customers can access unlimited talk, unlimited text, and 10 G.B. of data. Additionally, ACP allows qualified consumers to get a discount of $ 100 on purchasing a tablet, desktop computer, or laptop.

    However, to get a free tablet from StandUp Wireless, you will have to give a co-pay of at least $10.01. This offer is unavailable in all states, so you should confirm with your state to check if you qualify. To begin the application process, proceed to standupwireless.com, enter your zip code and email address, and tap “Begin Application.”

    On the screen, you will find the rate plans available in your area. If you don’t check the “Affordable Connectivity Program” as an available option, tap “See our other options,” The ACP program should be available if StandUp Wireless offers service in your area.

    2) Cintex Wireless

    Cintex Wireless is another Lifeline and ACP provider that provides free government tablets. Notably, this carrier is one of the few Lifeline providers that gives free Android smartphones and iPhones. To apply, follow the following simple steps:

    1. Ensure you are Lifeline and ACP-eligible. Besides, ensure that you are a resident of one of the states where the company provides its services and government assistance program.
    2. Proceed to apply.cintexwireless.com and input your ZIP code and email address in the empty boxes. Then, tap ‘Apply Now.
    3. You will get redirected to the company’s online application form. Complete it by submitting all the necessary personal information and supporting documentation.
    4. Send your online application. If approved, you will get notified in a matter of days. You will also get your ACP/Lifeline free tablet within 7 to 10 days based on availability.

    3) Qlink Wireless

    Qlink Wireless is among the best lifeline providers and the fastest-growing tech companies in the United States. The company offers low-income households free tablets, monthly data, and unlimited calling and texting. Additionally, Qlink Wireless packs over 8 different brands of free tablets that are available with the free government tablet program.

    Apart from getting a free tablet or phone, Qlink Wireless offers an Always-On Plan that provides free cellphone plans with 3-Gig internet data, 1,000 talk-time minutes, and Unlimited messaging.

    You can get a $100 as a device discount through the Affordable Connectivity Program. However, eligible people pay $10.01 for the co-payment to receive the new tablet for free.

    Bottom Line

    Through the participating wireless providers, the U.S. government offers free government phones and tablets to eligible members. To qualify, you must ensure that you are Lifeline and ACP eligible, following the eligibility requirements discussed in this guideline.